Navigating Employment

Recruitment, Retention and Advancement

8.Growing Indigenous Employment Partnerships

As your company goes about its Indigenous engagements, relationship building and partnership development, it will want to do so in a culturally responsible and responsive ways. In your work with Indigenous people, businesses and communities ‘trust’ must be a pivotal value that connotes what your company is striving for with its Indigenous relationships. How does your company demonstrate or operationalize trust? How is it represented or evidenced from an organizational perspective? These themes and strategies are addressed in this module of our Navigating Indigenous Employment Program.

8.1 Documenting Your Indigenous Employment Partnership Systems Processes

Indigenous Works will develop systems documentation for your company which explains or articulates the processes you use to conduct engagements, build relationships, and develop formal partnerships with Indigenous employment organizations. Your partnership systems document will express the principles which will guide your Indigenous partnership formations. The document we produce will be a step-by-step template which takes you through the partnership formation process, so you know what to expect. Imagine a scenario. You are holding discussions with an Indigenous organization and you think everything is fine. Suddenly, your calls are not being returned and the silence is deafening. What is that all about? In the systems document we will provide tips and suggestions on how to interpret these kinds of cues from your prospective partner.

The systems template can be provided as a resource throughout your company. If you are a large national company, the template means that your regional offices can adapt the process to their own region but each region is essentially following the same steps and using the same mechanisms to grow and build authentic, long-lasting relationships. We can also provide sample templates of the progressive instruments that can be used to document these evolving relationships (e.g. MOU, Statements of Intent and Cooperation Agreements).

Employment Partnership Systems Process Documentation - $10,000

9.Customizing Your Recruitment Strategies for Indigenous Audiences

Your company may have a robust set of recruitment strategies and practices but if they have not been customized for Indigenous audiences then you may have trouble attracting and recruiting Indigenous talent.

It is important that your recruitment strategies and practices be examined from beginning to end. Taken together they represent a powerful system. What are some of the customizations your company should be considering with your Indigenous recruitment strategy?

  • Advertisements and job posting should feature images of Indigenous people or specifically reference Indigenous career aspirations (as a distinctive group in Canada). Lack of customization in your advertising and postings makes the company less attractive to Indigenous people as it does not concretely convey that Indigenous people are working or will want to work at your company.
  • Does your company screen its job applications with the utmost fairness? Are unconscious biases influencing who you select for an interview? How do you guard against this?
  • What are you doing in your company’s onboarding processes to ensure that Indigenous peoples’ first experiences in your workplace are positive? What steps are you taking to create an inclusive workplace? 

This is a most important module in our program. Here, we analyze whether and how your existing recruitment strategies and practices can be customized for Indigenous audiences, job, or career candidates. This is not a comprehensive Indigenous employment systems review but a more surgical analysis of the specific recruitment strategies you use and how they should be customized for Indigenous talent.

The documentation and recommendations we develop will be based on interviews with your recruiters, communications staff, and managers.

Comprehensive Report on Your Company’s Indigenous Recruitment Strategies - $15,000

10.Achieving Indigenous Economic Reconciliation

In 2015, the Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its report with 94 Calls to Action.  The TRC engaged Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation.  The report released in 2015 made ‘calls to action’ to specific target groups.  Recommendation 92 is directed to business and their leadership, calling on them to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, offer meaningful consultation and to develop long term sustainable opportunities from economic development projects as well as education and training for managers in the history of Indigenous people, intercultural competency, human rights and anti-racism.

Employers can align their Indigenous engagement and recruitment efforts with these recommendations to demonstrate commitment and support for the reconciliation.  They can provide information and training to their employees to encourage their understanding of Indigenous peoples and their history. Employers are encouraged to learn more about the TRC. It is important to at least read the full TRC Calls to Action.

Call to Action # 92 is directed to business.

We call upon the corporate sector in Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a reconciliation framework and to apply its principles, norms, and standards to corporate policy and core operational activities involving Indigenous peoples and their lands and resources. This would include, but not be limited to, the following:

  1. Commit to meaningful consultation, building respectful relationships, and obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples before proceeding with economic development projects;
  2. Ensure that Aboriginal peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector, and that Aboriginal communities gain long-term sustainable benefits from economic development projects;
  3. Provide education for management and staff on the history of Aboriginal peoples, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal-Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.’[2]

The shortcoming of the reconciliation agenda is that it lacks a framework for measurement and benchmarking progress. As the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has observed, businesses do not have a clear sense of how to respond to the calls to action.

Should there be priorities set for areas on which to move forward? If so, how should they be determined, and their success measured?

The Chamber and businesses state that there are no guidelines by which to assess the appropriateness, effort or depth of response to the Commission that is required by companies.[2] There is no doubt that senior managers at FCC support reconciliation and they devote resources to it, but these priorities get lost at the middle management level in their effort to advance concrete measures which could be said to be an adequate response to the spirit and intent of the Commission’s Final Report(s) and to the specific calls to action.

In this module, Indigenous Works will lead your company’s cross divisional working group through a process to define how specifically your company is responding to the call to action #92 and how these efforts are progressing. (Statement of Progress) Companies need to bring clarity to this response both for internal and external audiences including employees and stakeholders. Your company is already probably doing many things in the spirit of reconciliation though you may not have documented what those activities are, and you may not appreciate the cultural significance of some of your efforts.

Uncovering and compiling these different activities is an important part of the process Indigenous Works will be leading with your company working group.  As part of this work, Indigenous Works will also develop recommendations for additional activities which your company could consider as part of its reconciliation journey. This is one of the most important pieces that your company can do to build its narrative for its Indigenous employment brand. Further, the document will build credibility and trust with your Indigenous partners and clients and it will encourage retention and engagement among your Indigenous employees.

Facilitation and Final Report - $15,000

11.Indigenous Advancement and Retention

Indigenous Works will analyze your company’s current strategies and practices focused on Indigenous advancement and retention. We will do a systematic review. Our first stage review will conduct background research about your company’s previous efforts in areas of Indigenous employment. We will develop a “top line” picture of key issues, and themes relating to your company’s journey in Indigenous employment. What has been working well and what has been problematic in your organization’s efforts to encourage Indigenous recruitment, advancement, and retention?

We also will want to understand any historical antecedents which have shaped your company’s current workplace and workforce circumstances, as they pertain to Indigenous employment.

This first stage analysis will rely on the following to shape our understanding:

  • Documents review (previous reviews, reports about your organization’s work or efforts in Indigenous advancement/retention;
  • Select interviews to develop both historical perspectives on current policy/ practices as well as top line captioning of key issues;
  • Virtual focus group session (group session with estimated 15-20 HR, executives, HR policy owners and HR managers) to discuss past and current circumstances with Indigenous employment;
  • Gather baseline data (Indigenous workforce analysis/profile e.g. # of Indigenous employees, numbers/occupations, gender split on areas such as Indigenous promotion or retention;
  • We will want to see any surveys or work your company has done on employee engagement.

The output of this first stage review is a Current Circumstances Report providing (i) a review and account of your company’s (Indigenous) advancement/ retention policies, strategies and practices, (ii) perspectives and opinions about top line issues in your company’s current Indigenous advancement and retention successes.

The second stage review will look at the fine details of your workplace’s policies, strategies, practices and systems for Indigenous advancement and retention. This is an in-depth analysis. We will consider these matters from both a human resource and a workplace perspective. For example, we will examine what specific HR strategies you are following to retain your Indigenous employees as well as consider what the workplace experience is for your Indigenous employees.

Some examples of the areas we will focus on include these.

  • Equity and perceived equity on compensation/benefits;
  • Onboarding/orientation practices
  • Supervision of Indigenous employees;
  • Performance appraisals;
  • Advancement and promotion;
  • Learning program/training programs/laddering;
  • Current accommodations in place;
  • Disciplinary actions;
  • Exit/Dismissal (layoffs, termination, recall etc.);
  • Analytics for the above
  • Teamwork;
  • Workplace harmony and cultural safety;
  • Effectiveness of organizational structures in place to support Indigenous inclusion or Indigenous employment (e.g. a Diversity Committee?);
  • Organizational culture (identifying indicators of culture and its implications for Indigenous employment/advancement and retention;
  • Organizational climate, as it relates to Indigenous engagement.
  • Anti-racist policies and how they are implemented and upheld.

Our report and recommendations will be comprehensive and will contain a roll-up chart which will provide an overview of the main observations and recommendations. The roll-up chart is important to communicate the report findings to different team members or groups that need to be part of their implementation.

Report and Recommendations - $25,000


[1] Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 2015

[2] Canadian Chamber of Commerce, ‘Coming Together Making Progress: Businesses Role in Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples’, May 2017.

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